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Mopar Minivans: Creating the first 20 years of Dodge, Chrysler, and Plymouth “magic wagons”

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”It’s an incredibly rare occurrence when the auto industry creates an entirely new class of vehicle, and rarer still when that innovation is an unqualified success story, but such was the case with Chrysler and the development of the minivan. In Mopar Minivans, Zatz uses the people who were there to retell in vivid detail the largely forgotten story of how this innovative people mover evolved into a quintessential piece of American family life for two generations. It’s a story that showcases not only how the automotive industry can work at its best, but also the ways that the industry’s prevalent groupthink mentality can stifle innovation.”

— Larry Vellequette, Automotive News

In the early 1970s, Chrysler started working on a “magic wagon” — a completely new passenger van that would fit into a normal garage. It was a daring project for a company that was strapped for cash; they would need a new engine, transmission, body, and suspension.

This book taps the people who created of the minivans to tell their story, with hitherto-unpublished photos of the original clay models. It is not just a story of a vehicle, but of the people who pushed it through the development process, brought it to life, and refreshed it in the face of intense competition. It is, in some ways, the story of Chrysler itself.

The minivans weren’t always going to be front wheel drive, with sliding doors; engineers, planners, and designers started arguing over alternatives ten years before the first one left the factory. This book dives into the reasons behind their decisions, and some of the ways minivans could have been very different; it also covers electric and CNG minivans, engines and transmissions, concept cars, and the assembly plants.

The paperback is generously illustrated with full-color design studies and photos of the final product; the Kindle version has fewer photos, but still covers the original clay models.

“I am amazed how complete you are, having not been on-site in the front trenches during agreements, disagreements, and, yes, even skirmishes, at times.” — Chrysler employee

David Zatz founded Chrysler-focused web site allpar.com; he also holds a Ph.D. in social and organizational psychology from Columbia University, and has been a business consultant for 20 years.

130 pages, Kindle Edition

Published February 13, 2019

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About the author

David Zatz

9 books
David Zatz is a writer, organizational development consultant, and automotive/organizational historian.

He started the biggest and most popular Chrysler-oriented web site in 1994. His non-automotive work has appeared in Quality Digest and HRMagazine, trade publications, and books.
He is also currently the publisher of MacStats.org, a clearinghouse of Mac statistical software.

David has two children, and is married to Dr. Katherine Zatz. His first book is The Rise and Reinvention of Chrysler Minivans: How a Rejected Idea Became a 14-Million-Sale Success.

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Profile Image for John Warnock.
11 reviews
May 1, 2019
The man for fans of vans.

If you want to know the whens, whys, and wherefores of the minivan, this is the book you want. Mr. Data delves into the history of the minivan and what was behind many of the decisions that made it the automotive staple it is today. OK, I'm a car nerd on my fourth mini. Takes one to know one.
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